When was my house built?

To get buildings insurance, you’ll need to tell your provider how old your property is. While you don’t have to be spot on with the date, it’s important to be as accurate as possible as this could help determine how much you’ll pay. Here’s how you can find out when your house was built.

To get buildings insurance, you’ll need to tell your provider how old your property is. While you don’t have to be spot on with the date, it’s important to be as accurate as possible as this could help determine how much you’ll pay. Here’s how you can find out when your house was built.

Helen Phipps
Insurance expert
6
minute read
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Last Updated 17 JANUARY 2023

How to find out when a house was built

There are a number of ways to find out the year your house was built.

Check your home or mortgage survey

Look at the mortgage valuation survey or the homebuyer survey you had done before you bought the property. It should give at least the approximate age of your home.

The home survey should also tell you what materials have been used to build your house. If it’s built with non-standard materials – for example, if it has a timber frame – this could affect the price of your home insurance.

Check your mortgage offer

If you have a mortgage on your property, look at the original mortgage offer. It should have details about the property that may include its age.

Check the title deeds

When you buy your home, you should be given its title deeds. These show the full history of a property, including past mortgages, sales contracts, ownership and a description of the property. If you can’t find the title deeds, contact the solicitor or conveyancer involved in the sale – they should have a paper copy. If your home is registered with HM Land Registry, they might also have a scanned digital copy of the title deeds.

Submit an enquiry to HM Land Registry

HM Land Registry records information about properties in England and Wales. It documents land ownership, not when property was built on the land. So, while it won’t necessarily tell you the exact age of your property, it could give you a good idea. 

For a fee of £3, a Land Registry search could tell you when the developer who built the property first sold it to a buyer. You could find out the approximate date your house was built by checking its first transfer of ownership or its first lease.

Find out if the property is registered:

Speak to your local council

Another way to find out when a property was built is to ask your local authority if they have a record of when planning permission was granted for building your house.

It’s worth bearing in mind that this could take some time. Also, records occasionally get lost, particularly if they were made before the days of electronic files.

Ask the seller or an estate agent

If you’re buying a home and need to get buildings insurance in place before moving in,  it might be worth getting in touch with the seller or their estate agent to see if they can confirm when the house was built.

The seller must fill in a property information form before putting their home on the market so this may reveal the age of the property. 

Talk to your neighbours

If all else fails, there’s a good chance one of your neighbours will know how old the properties on the street are. They may have had a home survey done themselves or their deeds might contain age details. Of course, this only applies if your houses are identical or very similar.

There’s no harm in asking as it may save you a lot of time and hassle – plus it’s a way of getting to know your neighbours better.

How do I find out when an older house was built? 

If you have a pre-1920s house, there are other ways to find when your property was built, as more information is publicly available. 

Compare architectural features 

An older home will usually have a distinctive style and character features. Windows, doors, roofs and even skirting boards can all point to a particular era. 

Historic England could have a wealth information on estimating the age of your property based on architectural features of the house. 

Check the 1862 Act Register

You can search when your house was built online through HM Land Registry’s archives. It contains information on around 2,000 properties built before 1862, which you can search for free.

Check census records

It might be worth looking at census data, collected every 10 years, to find a first mention of your address. You’ll probably have to pay a small charge to look at the records. However, you’ll only need to do this once as once you’ve tracked down the date you’ve got the answer.

See help from the National Archive on using census records

Trawl local archives

Local councils have a wealth of archive material on their area. You could search your local parish records, county record offices or library for clues. Old maps, building plans, photos and newspaper articles could all help you find out when your home was built.

Look at old maps 

Have a look at some of the old editions of Ordnance Survey historical maps and see if you can spot your property. It might also be worth checking the Old Maps website too. 

Contact a local history society

Local historians can be a mine of information. They may be happy to share their knowledge of architecture in the area, which could give an idea of when your house was built. The British Association For Local History has a handy directory of local history societies throughout the country.

See if your house is on the national heritage list

If your house is a period property, it might be listed on one of the national heritage sites:

How does the age of my property affect the cost of home insurance?

The age of your home reveals a lot about the property and has an impact on the premium you pay. 

As a general rule of thumb, older properties are more expensive to insure because they’re more prone to structural problems and ageing pipes could lead to water damage claims. New houses tend to be cheaper to insure because they’re built using modern materials and are less likely to have suffered as much wear and tear as an older home.

Your property will usually be put into a pricing band by home insurance providers – so finding out the exact date your house was built could potentially save you money. For instance, if you estimated a build date of 1975 on your policy but your home was actually built in 1980, you could end up paying more than you need to for your insurance.

Frequently asked questions

Will the age of my home affect the rebuild cost?

It could do. If you live in a modern home built with standard bricks or stone, the rebuild value will be far less than, say, a period property with a thatched roof, which may need specific materials and specialists to rebuild it. Older properties might also contain high-risk materials such as asbestos that may cause complications.  

And remember, the rebuild cost isn’t the same as what your house would be worth if it was put up for sale. 

Find out more about calculating the rebuild cost of your home.

Will the size of my house affect my home insurance?

Yes, the bigger your home, the more you’re likely to pay for your home insurance. For example, contents insurance is likely to cost more for a five-bedroom house than for a two-bedroom home. This is because you’ll probably have more possessions to insure. And a bigger home might be more expensive to rebuild as more materials will be needed, which could affect the price of your buildings insurance.

What else could affect the cost of my home insurance?

As well as the age, size and rebuild cost of your house, there are other factors that could affect the cost of your home insurance.

These could include:

See our guide to saving money on your home insurance.

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